Friday, 6 May 2022

Australian Federal Election 2022: Scott Morrison in his own words….

The desirability of making welfare recipients cash cows for big business

Speaking before some 300 delegates in Sydney, Morrison said that an investment approach to welfare was the way forward alongside the charitable sector.

Private capital investment in addressing social needs – charity must continue, and I believe it will – but real commercial investment is needed in addressing social challenges the country faces,” Morrison said.

Non-Government providers are not new to the sector particularly when it comes to service delivery – you do it better than the Government ever can and I think that’s been one of the lessons over the last four years.

We need to continue to build institutional capability and capacity of the non-Government sector for the delivery of these services but the big innovation that we must seek has to come through private investment.

Partnerships between civil society groups and our business community will become not only more important, but critical to expanding the service base that is provided.”

Morrison told delegates that welfare must become a good deal for private investors.

We have to make it a good deal for the returns to be there and to attract the level of capital that will be necessary,” he said.

The investment approach to welfare offers much promise for the future welfare system.”

[Xavier Smerdon (June 2015) writing in ProBono Australia, Private Capital Investment Needed to Expand Welfare System - Morrison”]

Australians can forget about relying on the age pension when they retire, according to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Echoing his predecessor Joe Hockey's pledge about the age of entitlement being over, in a speech on Friday Mr Morrison said the age pension should no longer be seen as an entitlement but "a welfare payment for those who do not have the ability to save enough to fund their own retirement".

"Becoming a self-funded retiree, I think, is one of the most important objectives of any Australian … it means you have choices and control over your life and your care," Mr Morrison said.

[Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison, 9 News, 30 Nov 2015]

"But you also have to make sure your welfare system does the right thing by those who are receiving it and the communities in which they live. That is why we have put in place the Cashless Debit Card. In particular in the member's electorate in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay from 29 January this year that trial commenced, quarantining welfare support from the purchase of alcohol or gambling products, where those purchases have caused drug and alcohol misuse and problem gambling. On 25 March this year we said we would be continuing trials at the existing sites in Ceduna, East Kimberley and Goldfields, and, of course, continuing those trials in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay….

Under this government we're running a welfare system which is a hand up, not out; one that understands that the best form of welfare is a job. Through programs like the cashless debit card, which is supported by this side of the House and opposed by that side of the House— (Time expired)"

[House of Representatives, Hansard (31 July 2019) Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the second time he spoke directly about the “Cashless Debit Card”]

we are keeping the cashless debit card program running to protect more vulnerable Australians from social harm”

[House of Representatives, Hansard (24 October 2019) Scott Morrison on the the fourth and last time he uttered the words “Cashless Debit Card” on the floor of the House]


In December 2020 Parliament passed the controversial amendments to Cashless Debit Card (CDC) laws but last minute amendments mean the trial sites would now be only be extended for two years and not become permanent income management sites. The CDC would also only be optional for est. 25,000 people currently on the Basics Card in the Northern Territory & Cape York, Qld.

Original commercial contracts and additional associated contracts are with Indue Limited.

snapshots retrieved 4 May 2022

The contentious CDC is being trialled in four regions - Ceduna in South Australia, the East Kimberly and Goldfields region in the West and Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland. The card quarantines 80 per cent of government payments so they cannot be used to withdraw cash, buy alcohol, or gamble.

Emotional speeches dominated Parliament as fierce debate continued long into the night.

The legislation passed the Senate by just one vote after the government failed to secure the support needed to make the CDC permanent with the last-minute amendments leading Centre Alliance senator, Stirling Griff declining to vote.

South Australian senator Rex Patrick and Tasmanian senator Jaqui Lambie both opposed the bill citing a lack of evidence and more investment in wrap-around supports and services are needed.

Those on the card are overwhelmingly Indigenous with the Minister for Social Services and Families, Anne Ruston revealing the figures in the Senate.

In WA's East Kimberley 81 per cent of people on the CDC are First Nations while in In the Goldfields 48 per cent of people and in the Queensland trial sites its 18 per cent.

Eighty-one per cent of people in the Northern Territory on the Basics Card are First Nations people. ” [NITV, 10 December 2020]

The sunset clause for Cashless Debit Card trial sites is 31 December 2022 and the 2021-22 Budget did not fund the program beyond that date. So expect Morrison & Co to quickly introduce legislation to extend this coercive program if they retain government after 21 May 2022.

Future militarisation of the response to civil disasters and unrest

PRIME MINISTER: I think we have got to prepare for a new normal. And the new normal, I think there is a community expectation now that there be a more direct ability for the Commonwealth, particularly through the Australian Defence Forces to be able to take action. See what happened…

SPEERS: What do you mean by that?

PRIME MINISTER: What happened last Saturday, this was the change, the big change, historic change, it moved from a respond to request posture, to a move and integrate posture. Which means the defence force moving in and then coming in and working with the local effort without requests, without any instigation at a state level, now…..

SPEERS: You want the power to deploy defence assets when you think you need to?

PRIME MINISTER: Where the Chief of the Defence Force believes there is a risk to life and safety and can support…

[ABC “Insiders” (January 2020) Prime Minister Scott Morrison interview with David Speers, transcript]

As of this morning, three hundred Australian Defence Force troops have been deployed primarily to southwest and western Sydney to help state law enforcement police ensure the diverse communities of lower socioeconomic standing comply with COVID stay-at-home orders.

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller put in a request to PM Scott Morrison last Thursday afternoon……

The troops won’t be armed or have any official powers. And the terms of the deployment, as well as official orders, aren’t publicly available.

However, it’s lost upon no one that the troops have been sent out straight after a huge and illegal anti-lockdown protest happened the weekend prior to the deployment request…..

the Turnbull-Morrison government streamlined the ability of the PM and other designated ministers to deploy the military domestically, under the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018.

So, rather than a measure of last resort, the executive can now deploy the military to enhance the capabilities of state and territory police in dealing with a threat of “domestic violence”, under the auspices of section 119 of the Australian Constitution.

The rather broad term domestic violence is left undefined within the founding document. However, it is designated as something distinct from “invasion” in that section of the Constitution.

Leading on from this late 2018 beefing up of call out provisions, the Morrison government passed a further bill last December, that streamlined the ability of the executive to deploy ADF reservists to domestic violence situations as well.

Section 33 of the Defence Act provides the governor general with the power to call out ADF troops to assist with domestic violence issues that threaten Commonwealth interests.

While section 35 of the Act allows for the call out of the ADF to assist state or territory law enforcement with “occurring, or likely to occur,” domestic violence situations if the PM, the attorney general or the defence minister is satisfied the situation requires it.

Special powers are bestowed to domestically deployed troops, via section 46, when capturing or recapturing a location, or when preventing or protecting against threats or acts of violence.

These include powers to control movement, search and seizure powers, the ability to detain citizens, to question them and to give them orders.

In terms of “protest, dissent, assembly or industrial action”, section 39 of the Act limits the powers of ADF troops to interfere in such matters, “except if there is a reasonable likelihood of the death of, or serious injury to, persons or serious damage to property”.

Section 123 provides ADF personnel with immunity from state laws in relation to registering a “vehicle, vessel, animal, firearm or other thing”. And section 123AA provides immunity to any civil or criminal liability in relation to anything done “in good faith” during such domestic operations…...

there’s a broader aspect to this use of the military to assist in managing restriction compliance, and that’s the ever-creeping militarisation of public life, whether that be via the coordination of the COVID-19 vaccines or turning the Australia Border Force into a paramilitary institution.

Last month, Australian peace activist Jacob Grech told Sydney Criminal Lawyers that “the military is a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives”, and it’s “main focus, as assistance defence minister Hastie said around Anzac Day, is the application of lethal violence.”

So, every time we are looking at other issues and areas where the military are involved – whether it’s with education or vaccine rollout – we have to remember that their main application is lethal violence.”

[Paul Gregoire (October 2021) writing in Sydney Criminal Lawyers blog, The Laws Governing the Military’s Deployment on the Australian Public]

A Morrison policy now hiding in the shadows

In addition we will commence a modest drug testing trial for 5,000 new welfare recipients.

JobSeeker recipients who test positive would be placed on the Cashless Debit Card for their welfare payments and be subjected to further tests and possible referral for treatment.

Other welfare measures include: strengthening verification requirements for single parents seeking welfare, a crackdown on those attempting to collect multiple payments, stricter residency rules for new migrants to access Australian pensions, and denying welfare for a disability caused solely by their own substance abuse….

Other welfare measures include: strengthening verification requirements for single parents seeking welfare, a crackdown on those attempting to collect multiple payments, stricter residency rules for new migrants to access Australian pensions, and denying welfare for a disability caused solely by their own substance abuse.

[Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison (May 2017) House of Representatives, Hansard, p. 4067]

NOTE: The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019 was passed in the House of Representatives on 17 October 2019 after the rejected drug testing measures were again put to Parliament, this time by the Morrison Government. These measures applied to 5,000 new Jobseeker and Youth Allowance applicants in Canterbury-Bankstown (NSW), Logan (QLD) and Mandurah (WA) for a trial period of two years. The bill is currently before the Senate after having received a favourable inquiry report and an unfavourable human rights report. To date it has not progressed to assent, seemingly waiting for a cleared legislative schedule after the re-election of a Morrison Government.

On the subject of Morrison's personal unlawful war against the poor and vulnerable

In an interview with The Saturday Telegraph, the Prime Minister said he doesn’t want Australia’s strong economy to be compromised by bludgers who won’t pay back their debt.

If you’ve got welfare debts but you can afford to get on a plane and go overseas, well — no,” Mr Morrison said.

[Prime Minister Scott Morrison (22 Sept 2018) in]

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied personal responsibility for the Robodebt disaster, which has resulted in a $1.2 billion class action settlement.

Mr Morrison was social services minister when the unlawful scheme was conceived and touted the billions of dollars it was supposed to rake in during his time as treasurer.

He continued the welfare debt recovery program as Prime Minister and pinned a promised return to surplus on its projected windfall.

The federal government finally pulled the plug on the policy late in 2019 in the face of a Federal Court challenge. It settled a class action earlier in November, hours before the trial was to begin.…..

Thousands of debt notices demanding repayments were based on false information.

But Mr Morrison argues the use of income averaging brought the Robodebt scheme undone, not the full automation of the process.

It’s actually not about the computer, it’s about the assumption made that a debt is raised by averaging people’s incomes,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

Income averaging was found not to be a valid means of raising a debt, that’s what it’s about. This is just the Labor Party trying to throw some mud.”

Robodebt victims are to receive $112 million in compensation, be repaid $720 million and have $400 million in unlawful debts wiped…..

We’ve got on with fixing it, that’s what we’ve got on with doing. Labor wants to just keep kicking it along for their own political reasons,” the Prime Minister said.

[Journalist Daniel McCulloch writing in The New Daily, 25 November 2020]

The Morrison government has told a tribunal there is “strong public interest” in preserving the secrecy of “business case” documents that may outline the nucleus of the unlawful robodebt scheme.

IT expert Justin Warren won access to documents connected to the since-scrapped welfare debt recovery program under freedom of information laws in 2019, but he is yet to receive them after the government appealed against the decision.

Warren’s lawyer argues there is “profound” public interest in release because they may shed light on what went wrong with the scheme, which eventually saw the government reach a $1.8bn settlement with about 400,000 victims in what the federal court called a “shameful chapter”.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which is considering the government’s latest attempt to keep the documents secret, heard closing arguments from both parties on Thursday.

The tribunal has previously heard the documents include detailed costings and other financial data about the program, which matched yearly income data against a person’s fortnightly reports to Centrelink to send a person a debt.

They are also said to include draft “new policy proposal” documents and purported attachments that outline a new plan to ramp up the government’s welfare debt recovery.

The tribunal is considering, among other issues, whether the documents were prepared for the cabinet process or were simply being worked on internally by the then Department of Human Services, which administered the robodebt scheme.

Counsel for the commonwealth, Andrew Berger QC, insisted on Thursday the documents should not be released because they were prepared for cabinet.

[Journalist Luke Henriques-Gomes writing in The Guardian, 23 December 2021]


As of 1 July 2022 a new federal employment service, Workforce Australia,  will begin which encompasses all employment services delivered by the Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment. Workforce Australia falls with the portfolios of Ministers Stuart Robert, Alan Tudge & Bridgit McKenzie as well as Assistant Minister Like Howarth.

As well as transferring more personal responsibility to an unemployed person to provide their own employment opportunities, it also increases the mutual obligation provisions by creating a digitalised points system whose software will decide if the unemployed person has met all mutual obligation requirements in any reporting period - with the apparent penalty for non-compliance being a reduction or suspension of benefits. One suspects that this new employment service is where the aforementioned "new plan to ramp up the government's welfare debt recovery" will initially be applied if the Morrison Government is re-elected. 

On being the best economic manager

On 18 September 2013 when Scott John Morrison moved from the Opposition benches to the Government side of the House of Representatives and straight into the new ministry and a Cabinet position, the nation's annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annual growth was in the vicinity of 2.6%. By the end of the year he became Australian Treasurer GDP growth had slowed to 2.2%. In the year Morrison became prime minister growth rose to 2.9% and, then fell off a cliff a good twelve months before the global pandemic began, to bottom at the end of 2020 at minus zero annual growth according to the World Bank.

GDP growth (annual %) - Australia 2013 to 2020

World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files.

Annual percentage growth rate of GDP at market prices based on constant local currency. Aggregates are based on constant 2015 prices, expressed in U.S. dollars. GDP is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources.

An economy's growth is measured by the change in the volume of its output or in the real incomes of its residents. The 2008 United Nations System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) offers three plausible indicators for calculating growth: the volume of gross domestic product (GDP), real gross domestic income, and real gross national income. The volume of GDP is the sum of value added, measured at constant prices, by households, government, and industries operating in the economy. GDP accounts for all domestic production, regardless of whether the income accrues to domestic or foreign institutions.

In 2021 Australia's annual GDP growth over the year was a lacklustre1.5% before the December quarter came in at 3.4%. From the end December 2021 to March 2022 GDP growth has held at 4.2% but the International Monetary Fund appears to think that will shrink to est. 2.5% by the end of 2023 and fall yet again in 2024.

Then there was this......

While Monday's mid-year budget update forecasts a slight improvement in the budget bottom line this financial year - with a deficit of $36.5 billion rather than the $37.1 billion expected - the following three years will see the budget bottom line head further into the red than expected.

The deficit in 2017-18 will be $28.7 billion, up from $26.1 billion forecast in May. In 2018-19 it will be $19.7 billion and in 2019-20 the deficit will nearly double from $6 billion to $10 billion. In total, deficits over the next four years will total $94.9 billion.

In a statement, S&P said the latest budget forecasts would have "no immediate impact" on Australia's credit rating, but added a strong warning about the nation's worsening forecast fiscal position placing further pressure on the rating.

"We remain pessimistic about the government's ability to close existing budget deficits and return a balanced budget by the year ending June 30, 2021. Over the coming months, we will continue to monitor the government's willingness and ability to enact new budget savings or revenue measures to reduce fiscal deficits materially over the next few years," the statement said.

[The Age, 20 December 2016, p.1]

Followed by this a little over six years later.....

At its meeting today, the Board decided to increase the cash rate target by 25 basis points to 35 basis points. It also increased the interest rate on Exchange Settlement balances from zero per cent to 25 basis points….

Over the year to the March quarter, headline inflation was 5.1 per cent…

This rise in inflation largely reflects global factors. But domestic capacity constraints are increasingly playing a role and inflation pressures have broadened, with firms more prepared to pass through cost increases to consumer prices.….

The central forecast for 2022 is for headline inflation of around 6 per cent and underlying inflation of around 4¾ per cent; by mid 2024…..

The Board is committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that inflation in Australia returns to target over time. This will require a further lift in interest rates over the period ahead.

[Reserve Bank of Australia, media release (3 May 2022) Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision, Number 2022-12]

The entire time Morrison has been a Cabinet Minister - rising to Treasurer in 2015 & Prime Minister in 2018 – every single national budget has been a deficit budget.

Not even in 2019 did he manage to keep the national accounts out of the red.

So what has Morrison had to say over the years about the national economy?

SCOTT MORRISON: In my electorate there are many families and there are many individuals who have mortgages and they would like to see rates come down.

[ABC “The World Today” (September 2008) Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison on the subject of the Reserve Bank lowering the interest rate]

The Prime Minister, campaigning in western Sydney on Monday, channelled former party leader John Howard by saying the government was committed to “keeping downward pressure” on interest rates, which are at a record low of 0.1 per cent….

Mr Morrison said the lift in inflation in the United States, where it climbed to 6.2 per cent last week, highlighted the issues at play in the Australian economy.

I think it does highlight Australia’s economic recovery has to be secured by people who have a track record in economic management, otherwise you will see petrol prices go up, you will see electricity prices go up, you will see interest rates go up, more than they would need to,” he said.

[Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (15 April 2022), The Sydney Morning Herald]

Well, inflation, as you know, is about how quickly costs are rising.” 

[Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (30 April 2022) interview with political commentator Peter van Onselen]

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has said interest rates would be lower under his government than under Labor, yesterday urged journalists not to politicise the potential rate rise…..

Morrison, campaigning in Victoria, said there were pressures coming from outside of Australia on the nation's interest rate settings.

He said the current rate of 0.1 per cent was "unconventionally low" and taxpayers understood they would start to move up.

"The pressures on interest rates ... the pressures on cost of living, highlight just why the economy is so important in this election," he said.

[Scott Morrison quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 May 2022, p.1]

On the touchy subject of religion within the corridors of a secular democratic parliament

God moves in mysterious ways, and never more so than when He moves into politics. On Thursday, for example, the Liberal Party announced that its candidate for the seat of Greenway, centred around Blacktown, would be Louise Markus, a prominent member of Hillsong, Australia's largest church…..

You might have thought someone standing for such a marginal seat would want all the media attention he or she could get, but the Liberals' state director, Scott Morrison, refused to let the Herald talk to her. He said she would do "local media first".

Instead Morrison, himself a man of "strong religious views", launched into a pitch for the type of "faith-based programs" that Hillsong had established to address social problems.

"In the [United] States there is an increasing tendency of governments particularly the Bush Government to get behind what are called faith-based programs," he enthused.

"That is where governments start to lift the constraints on the Noffses and the Bill Crewses and others, to enable them to really help people, beyond just the material, and give them life advice which involves faith. Those programs, I understand, have had some great success."

Markus works for Emerge, the Hillsong offshoot whose facilities and programs range from medical centres and emergency relief services to drug and alcohol programs, and personal development and recovery programs.

The CEO there, Leigh Coleman, would not put us in contact with Markus, either. And so the views of the Hillsong employee and Liberal candidate on the desirability of passing responsibility for social welfare issues from secular government agencies to religious organisations must for now remain a mystery.

Perhaps some light will be shed when the chief pastor of Hillsong, Brian Houston, addresses Federal Parliament's Christian fellowship prayer breakfast when next it meets, in about a month…..

Are we witnessing here the growth of a US-style religious right influence on politics, particularly on Liberal Party politics?

The state director, Scott Morrison concedes: "Certainly there is a strong element in the party which holds very deep religious convictions."

[Liberal Party Director Scott Morrison (12 April 2004), The Sydney Morning Herald]

He also acknowledges that the Liberal Party, once largely comprised of members of the established Protestant faiths, is these days "literally a broad church"…..

[Journalists Mike Seccombe, Aban Contractor and Mark Metherell, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April 2002, p.13]

Since entering the parliament and before I have held a very clear, consistent and public view supporting the current definition of marriage as a voluntary union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. I maintain this view and issued a statement to my electorate on 19 November last year to initiate feedback from my constituents…..

Religions and cultures over centuries have held that family is ultimately based on the union of a man and a woman. I do not believe that the tested wisdom of centuries has been overwhelmed by more contemporary arguments. I acknowledge that in today's society too many heterosexual marriages fail. Family breakdown is the primary cause of poverty, disadvantage, mental illness and related conditions in our society today. The biggest victims of marriage failure and family breakdown are children. The social and economic costs of family breakdown are incalculable. This is a genuine national tragedy, not an argument for same-sex marriage. Legal recognition of same-sex unions does not, and should not, require the redefinition of marriage.

Marriage, as I have said, is a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others for life. Legal recognition of a same-sex union should be termed something else. I have no objection to some other form of legal recognition of such relationships in the form of a type of civil union provided such unions do not provide any automatic access to adoption. I appreciate there are many in the community who hold a different view to those I have expressed in this place. Of those who contacted me by mail, petition and email who I was able to identify in my electorate, more than 850 were against changes to the Marriage Act, while over 50 were in favour. I do not seek to represent this as a representative poll—my position will not be determined by such polls—but it would appear that of those who feel strongly about this issue a majority were in favour of retaining the current definition rather than changing it.

As we look at this issue, though, I think we need to be mindful of what the real threats to marriage are in the context of this debate, and I believe that such threats are posed more from within than from without. This debate should remind us that anniversaries in marriage are earned, not arrived at, and we should all work on the sanctity of marriage. 

[House of Representatives, Hansard (24 Aug 2011) Liberal MP for Cook & Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Scott Morrison]

Scott Morrison has asked a national conference of Christian churches to help him help Australia, while revealing his belief that he and his wife, Jenny, have been called upon to do God’s work.

In video that has emerged of the prime minister speaking at the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast last week, Morrison also revealed that he had sought a sign from God while on the 2019 election campaign trail, and that he had practised the evangelical tradition of the “laying-on of hands” while working in the role of prime minister.

He also describes the misuse of social media as the work of “the evil one”, in reference to the Devil, and called on his fellow believers to pray against its corrosive effect on society.

While Australians are familiar with the non-evangelical Christian beliefs of John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison is the first Pentecostal Christian to hold the office.

Morrison has been open about his faith, inviting journalists into the Horizon church in the Sutherland shire during the 2019 election campaign, and describing his subsequent victory as a “miracle” win. Footage of him calling for prayers for state and territory leaders during the Covid pandemic has also emerged.

The prime minister travelled to the conference from Sydney using his taxpayer-funded aircraft. No video of the address has been promoted on his Facebook or official pages, nor has his office released a copy of his speech, as usually occurs when he is speaking in his official capacity as prime minister.

The video, which was broadcast by Vineyard Christian church then distributed by the Rationalist Society, gives rare insight into Morrison’s personal religious practice and the beliefs that guide him and the rapidly growing Pentecostal movement in Australia…..

Talking about a difficult time during the final fortnight of the election campaign, Morrison shared a story of asking God for a sign before visiting the Ken Duncan Gallery on the New South Wales Central Coast.

I must admit I was saying to myself, ‘You know, Lord, where are you, where are you? I’d like a reminder if that’s OK,’” Morrison says.

And there right in front of me was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle that I could imagine and of course the verse hit me.

The message I got that day was, ‘Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary, you’ve got to walk to not grow faint, you’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle.’”

He told the conference that he and Jenny had been grateful for the “amazing prayers and support” sent from Christians across the country, and shared with the crowd that he had practised the laying on of hands, a Pentecostal tradition of healing and encouragement to faith.

I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people … laying hands on them and praying in various situations,” he says….

[Political journalist Sarah Martin writing about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s faith in The Guardian, 26 April 2021]

*My yellow highlighting throughout this post

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